Miesha Tate – “Champions aren’t born, they’re made”

“Champions aren’t born, they are made.”
Miesha Tate first saw that saying in her high school wrestling room. Now, in her third year as a mixed martial arts fighter, Tate has adopted it as her motto.
“I think I’m always going to live that motto,” Tate said. “It kind of hit the spot for me because it’s true.
“It makes you realize you have to work for everything.”
Living by that motto has propelled the 22-year-old Olympia, Wash. native to a 6-2 professional record and the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s 135-pound Championship.
It has also brought her a long way from her high school wrestling roots to the cages of MMA fighting.
“(MMA’s) been more than what I expected,” Tate said. “I have always loved it since the day I started, but I really had no clue just how far it could take me.”
After wrestling for four years in high school, Tate enrolled at Central Washington University. Her roommate was into karate and started going to an MMA club. Eventually, she brought Tate along with her because she figured Tate would enjoy it.
“I didn’t even know what MMA was,” Tate said. “Sure enough, she was right. I really enjoyed it.
“With my wrestling background, learning the Ju-Jitsu moves came really easy to me.”
Tate stuck with the club, but her roommate didn’t. While she enjoyed learning the moves, she never expected to become a fighter.
“I didn’t think I’d get comfortable getting hit in the face,” Tate said.
Eventually she went to Yakima MMA in Yakima, Wash. which is where she met her current boyfriend Bryan Caraway. Caraway and Tommy Truex encouraged Tate to regularly join them in training at Yakima MMA.
“They were both really supportive of me, and helped me get into fighting,” Tate said.
Tate “learned all the basics” of fighting at Yakima MMA from Rich Guerin. She stayed at Yakima for six amateur fights and two professional fights.
Eventually she moved to Olympia and began training with Dennis Hallman and Victory Athletics, which is where she still trains today.
Hallman also has a wrestling background, which is why Tate is so comfortable training with him.
“It’s a great place for me to train,” Tate said. “Since wrestling is my base, it’s really easy for me to pick things up.”
Takedowns and the ground game have become key elements for Tate in all of her fights.
“I consider myself a freestyle fighter with a wrestling background,” Tate said. “Anywhere on the ground I feel really comfortable. That’s definitely where I like to be.”
Learning Something from Each Fight
Tate’s professional debut came Nov. 24, 2007 in the Hook ‘n’ Shoot-Bodog Fight Women’s Tournament.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Tate said. “But I’m kind of lucky that I don’t get really, really nervous.
“I look forward to fighting. That’s when all the things come together.”
Tate beat Jan Finney in her opening fight by decision, but was knocked out in 30 seconds in the second round by Kaitlin Young.
“I really wanted to do well, and I was probably a little too apprehensive in the fight looking back on it,” Tate said. “Losing that fight was definitely a reality check. I realized I had to get more serious.”
From that point on Tate vowed to always dictate her fights. She also worked on getting more explosive power and learned to take better shots.
Her improvement was evident in her third fight, which came against Elaina Maxwell at a StrikeForce event on June 27, 2008.
Tate said she knew going into the fight that Maxwell was a strong kickboxer, so her goal was to get a takedown right away and work Maxwell over on the ground.
Less than 30 seconds into the fight, Tate had Maxwell on the ground and kept her there for most of the remainder of the fight. Tate was victorious by decision.
“It was nice to dominate the fight,” Tate said. “It felt really good to be in mount.
“It was kind of a breakthrough fight for me.”
Since then Tate has won the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s 135-pound Championship by winning two fights with Freestyle Cage Fighting. Her first fight was a TKO win over Jessica Bednarek on Jan. 31, 2009, and her second was a submission victory over Liz Carriero on April 4, 2009.
Her last fight was a decision loss to Sarah Kaufman on May 15, 2009. Tate had been training to fight Kim Couture, who had a 1-1 record at the time. But Couture backed out of the fight and was replaced by the undefeated Kaufman, who had won all eight of her fights by knockout.
Tate held her own in the fight, but lost to Kaufman by decision.
The loss taught Tate that MMA is more than just a physical sport.
“I think the mental part of fighting is the most important part, because it really controls everything,” Tate said. “I definitely fought my heart out, but I just lacked the confidence.”
But in losing, Tate gained greater confidence.
“Now I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have what it takes to be a top-level 135-pound female fighter,” Tate said. “I do have the potential and ability to beat the top-level fighters, and I didn’t know that up to that point.”
FILA Grappling Championships Leads to a Love of Travel
Tate has also competed in the 2008 FILA Grappling Championships, representing Team USA in the 158.5-pound weight class, even though she naturally fights at 135-pounds and naturally weights between 140- and 145-pounds.
The tournament took place in Switzerland on Dec. 22, 2008, and Tate finished in second place in her weight class while fighting opponents from the United States, Poland, France and Canada.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” Tate said.
She was also able to visit Italy, and came back to the United States bitten by the travel bug.
“It was so eye-opening to experience the world beyond just the borders of the U.S.,” Tate said.
Her next stop will hopefully be Japan.
“I think going to Japan would be an amazing experience,” Tate said. “I probably can’t even fathom how different their culture is.”
Giving Back to MMA by Training Other Athletes
When she isn’t training for her own fights, Tate makes sure to give back to the sport by helping other athletes, specifically those also training at Victory Athletics.
Tate currently manages Stephanie Webber, a 24-year-old amateur who has a 3-3 record. Tate was in Webber’s corner during a recent fight in Las Vegas.
“I feel a unique bond with her,” Tate said. “I really want to see other women in the sport be successful, because we are all working toward the same goal.”
Tate also doesn’t hesitate to work with some of the experience fighters at Victory Athletics as well.
“Mostly, my life is all about fighting,” Tate said. “When I have down time, I’m more than willing to help anybody.”
Tate Awaits Her Next Fight
Tate said she has a multiple fight contract with StrikeForce, and is waiting to hear who her next opponent will be.
“I’m hoping to fight in September,” Tate said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
She’s also hoping it will be the next step in accomplishing her goal of becoming the 135-pound champion for StrikeForce once the organization develops belts for the women’s division.
Tate is also aiming to be ranked in the Top-5 women at 135-pounds within the year.
Tate is sponsored by Tussle Fight Gear, Vicious Fight Gear, Caged Steel, Fight University and Cage Candi.

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